The true story of the evolution of the New York City
punk rock scene through the legendary nightclub CBGB.
Directed by Randall Miller
Written by Jody Savin and Randall Miller
Starring Alan Rickman, Donal Logue, Ashley Greene,
Freddy Rodriguez, Richard de Klerk, Justin Bartha,
Rupert Grint, Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford,
Stana Katic, Ryan Hurst, Estelle Harris
CBGB is a biopic that fails to tell us anything we didn't already know about the evolution of punk rock, yet is so entertaining that you can't help but enjoy yourself. Thanks to a talented cast and an epic soundtrack of punk rock classics, CBGB manages to surpass its own mediocrity by turning into a celebration of punk rock and its founders. If you look at the film as a by-the-numbers biopic, you'll surely be disappointed. If you look at it as one long punk rock playlist, there's no reason you can't walk away smiling.
Alan Rickman portrays CBGB's founder, Hilly Kristal, the man who is considered by many to be the reason punk rock evolved into the underground sensation it became. Hilly opened his club with the hopes that country music bands would play. Instead, it became the Copacabana of up-and-comers like the Ramones, Blondie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, and the Talking Heads, among many other now iconic punk rock legends. The performances are mostly forgettable, though Rickman steals the show. Donal Logue should never do an English accent again and the same goes for Ashley Greene's stereotypical New York one. Everyone else is either lost in the ensemble or does an okay job of portraying a larger-than-life musician like Joey Ramone or Debbie Harry.
If CBGB wanted to be the definitive punk rock biopic, the filmmakers should've paid more attention to the influence of the club itself, instead of just following Alan Rickman around the whole time. The club was a haven for freaks, losers, and straight-up punks. I wanted to see why they wanted to go there and why punk bands wanted to play there. This would've made CBGB a stronger film instead of essentially one long mixtape.